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At Crock & Jar, Michaela Hayes cans a crop of beets grown at her farm collective, Rise & Root Farm, in Chester.

Ethan Harrison

in a pickle

Beekeepers Jake and Tara Salerno of Urban Apis check out one of their hives at their backyard in Kingston.

Busy Bees

Deborah DeGraffenried

24 upstater

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Michaela Hayes started her professional life in Manhattan as a commercial photographer, but it wasn’t long before she realized that her primary passion was the food she was shooting. After studying at the French Culinary Institute, she found herself making gallons of chutneys at Danny Meyer’s Indian restaurant Tabla, combining fresh local fruits and Indian spices. Moving later to Gramercy Tavern to take the position of “pickle chef,” she became directly involved in local agricultural sourcing. Her interest in food activism led her to take a training-for-trainers class with advocacy organization JustFoodNYC, which in turn led to a canning class where she honed in still further on her passion for preservation. “Canning was a perfect intersection of my passion for food, art, and science,” she says. Further studies followed on the West Coast at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems in Santa Clara, California; in 2010, Hayes moved back to Manhattan with the intention of starting a preservation-based food business. Crock & Jar was born. Six years later, Crock & Jar’s website offers half a dozen varieties of kraut and an encyclopedic amount of food preservation know-how. Expect many new additions to the product line as Hayes continues to add value to the harvest from Chester-based Rise & Root Farm, where she and three co-farmers just finished their second growing season. “We’re working on hot sauce with all of the farm’s peppers and chili paste again this year,” she says. “And I did make a small batch of pickled okra, but our crop—the first we’ve grown—was small enough that customers at the market kept buying it all, so there wasn’t much excess to preserve—not a bad problem.”

Kingston residents Tara Salerno and her husband Jake happened upon the world of backyard beekeeping by chance. “We talked to a neighbor who had bees, and thought, ‘That sounds cool,’” she says. “And the more you learn about bees, the more fascinating they are.” Urban Apis recently added a third hive, so the couple’s bees now forage in their own uptown Kingston garden full of bee-friendly plantings as well as in a neighboring plant nursery. Salerno makes Urban Apis’s salves, balms, candles, and soap in the family’s kitchen. “I got some basic recipes from the Beekeeping Shop and did a lot of research online,” she says. “Bee people are a collaborative bunch; I’ve become Facebook friends with another beekeeper who also makes natural products.” Beekeeping is probably the only method of food production that would dovetail with two day jobs—Tara works for the Department of Environmental Protection and Jake for another branch of state government—but Salerno says it works well for them. “It’s still kind of a side hobby,” she says. “It’s fun, and the bees don’t take much time. I’d say they’re more work than a cat, but less than a dog.” This year was the Salernos’ third year of keeping bees and their second honey harvest. They produced around 30 pounds of the good stuff this year, and sold out by fall, but still have plenty of other hive products in stock. “How much [honey] you get varies,” Salerno notes. “You always have to leave the bees enough to build out their combs.”

Upstater Winter 2016  
Upstater Winter 2016